That's pretty much it skid. Gotta remember, all involved including the judge are attorneys. In smaller towns, such as mine, they are part time employees of the twp ( judge and pros). They have their own pvt practices as well. They are honestly a great bunch of folks in my town, including the public defender and most of the defense attorneys.
I guess all towns work differently to some extent. In mine, the pros. will automatically offer a down grade for exchange for a guilty plea unless there are extenuating circumstances or if the officer involved marks the case as no plea. If that is done we have to be able to explain to the pros. why we do not want a downgrade and if our request is plausible the pros. will argue behind closed doors with the defense attorney and the outcome is typically take what deal the pros. offers or go to trial. Two of the few charges that are not downgradable are dwi and breath test refusal. Depending on what the judge and pros. set as limits, speeding can be downgraded to a much lesser no points violation. Lots of variables involved but usually a defense attorney will broker a better deal than that of the civilian defendant.
My best advice is to do exactly as you did. On the first court date plead not guilty and ask to speak with the prosecutor. If the deal he/she offers is not acceptable obtain the services of a local ( local to the court) defense attorney and go from there. Often a local attorney to the court will do better in getting you the deal you want rather than a out of area attorney simply because the local attorney knows the pros., judge and all the cops. Old boy network ya know :wink: